22 comments written by Al Coleman

Addendum to  SLOW, HARD, AND FAST
by Al Coleman

In addition to Gus’s lucid words in his excellent article Slow, Hard, and Fast, I’d like to shine some light on what conditions would be required to actually produce fast movement once in a fatigued state. Listen up because it is this one minor (yet major) detail that leads to the incorrect conclusion that total weight is directly synonyms with load.

The correct objective in an exercise is to render the target musculature as momentarily dysfunctional as possible, as quickly as possible. If I look at this on a continuum traveling from A to B, what is obviously required to accomplish said objective is to stay on a straight line directly traveling toward “B”. Point “B” is not something that you are waiting for to occur, but something that you are trying to get to as fast as you can.  If all environmental factors are correctly present, this will result in one needing to produce a more intense effort the closer you get to the end. The correct equipment coupled with the correct behavioral traits present in the subject will result in the inability to move too fast. Despite this, the subject should be attempting to exert harder or “hurry up” the more dysfunctional they become.

Wait a second! Didn’t Gus say harder NOT faster? How could “hurrying up” not produce faster movement? A few seconds ago I mentioned environment. For this protocol to be optimized all of the correct things in the environment must be in place and as mentioned above this includes equipment and subject comprehension/behavior. If the subject, even a nano second, strays off course (a straight path) the environment will have been changed and the correct conditions to allow for faster external movement are now in place. Muscle can recover quickly. Faster movement CANNOT be produced if every infinitesimal period of time during an exercise is being directed at rapid depletion. Form discrepancies by definition are things that allow for faster movement. To deplete strength faster you must contract harder and to produce faster movement you must have adequate strength present. It’s one or the other and it is the former that in my opinion will produce unmatched gains.

A topic for a future post is the confusion of how the above suggests that one must enforce such a heavy load that fast movement becomes impossible. This doesn’t teach a subject how to volitionally access more muscle and create a deeper level of fatigue, but instead creates what I like to describe as walking a heavy weight like a piece of furniture. Those who have come to the above mentioned conclusion and title it ‘slow training’ most likely didn’t have the ability to evolve based on Ken’s original recommendations, but instead tried to enforce conditions to make up for their own short comings. More to come……

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Donnie Hunt December 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I think I have some idea how to apply all this to conventional equipment. Any insights into this would be much appreciated.


avatar Al December 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm


The concnetric should be performed with the exact same intention as what we suggest here, but the negative will need to speed up slightly. You probably will also find that you won’t go through con, static, and ngeative failure all at once. This is the value of good machines. Failure is more efficient.

More than likely you will find that you will “fail” positively without having thorughly exhausting your positive ability.



avatar Donnie Hunt December 16, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Thanks Al. Are you referring to getting stuck at sticking points? This seems to happen on the chest press machine I use on only about 4 or 5 reps. I wondered if I should still attempt to push or contract when this happens. On the other hand the seated row machine I have access to to seems to work quite smoothly with sticking points not being an issue.


avatar Al December 18, 2010 at 3:43 am


It really depends on what pieces of equipment we are talking about( ie; exercises, machine make, etc…). Different pieces will require a tweaking to the way that particular exercise is done. After training on good equipment for a while and/or learning how to do body weight stuff correctly, one will start to develop a feel for proper cam effects. This is a skill that requires experience and unfortunately doesn’t lend itself to a pat answer. The advantage though is that you start to understand what continous loading feels like and can transfer that skill to tweak the way an exercise is done on crappy equipment.



avatar Travis Weigand December 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Having performed the majority of my training on equipment that is far from ideal, I have found that I have to speed up the negative. WAY too much of a respite during the negative is provided by non-Renaissance equipment. I can attest to the fact that positive failure on non-Renaissance equipment will always come as a result of friction and resistance curves that aren’t ideal for the protocol. Once you get the opportunity to use a piece of Renaissance equipment, the ineffectiveness of everything else becomes very apparent.

As a side note, due to the fact that I rarely have the opportunity to train with ideal equipment, I have eliminated equipment from my routine all together. My entire workout now consists of bodyweight exercises. Perhaps in the future this is a topic to discuss.


avatar Joshua Trentine December 18, 2010 at 12:10 am

you read my mind.


avatar Al December 18, 2010 at 3:39 am

Ditto Travis.

I think outside of ideal equipment, bodyweight stuff done in a very specific manner is the next best thing.

A set of manual squats was the first exercise I was ever exposed to using Ken’s protocol, and it is an experience I will never forget.



avatar John Tatore December 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Especially when you keep your back straight and don’t let the butt push out reward … burn baby burn!


avatar Joshua Trentine December 18, 2010 at 8:03 pm

yes, the hips must drop and eventually swing toward the ankles, never away.

avatar griff December 19, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I have been using Cybex equipment at a local gym doing BBS type workouts, after years of doing mostly bw and db routines. Results are good. At 60, I’m fit, at least for my activities and lifestyle. but I hate going to the gym.
The machines make tracking progress easier, and are safe. But they offer no other advantage I can think of, over bw and db stuff. Given that few of us have access to superior machines, I’m surprised more HIT authors have not addressed bw exercise. Maybe they assume you just can’t get strong that way.


avatar Al December 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm


Thanks fir stopping by.

It isn’t that HIT authors assume you can’t get strong with conventional equipment, you can, its that in the spirit of progressing this science/art we are always looking to represent the latest technology to help the greatest number of people.

We have to try and represent this technology in this manner so that more people will want to carry it forward, thus making it more readily available to folks like yourself. To say that you can get just AS strong, just as efficiently with conventional equipment wouldn’t be intellectually honest of us. Unfortunately, we know better.

Some machines in the Cybex line are OK, but in genreal don’t offer much advantage(and in some cases are a disadvantage) over conventioanl means. Once you’ve trained on equipment engineered with a protocol in mind, you won’t want to go back. It wouldn’t make sense.

As far as I know, this community is the only one that has ever designed machines based around a protocol to start. The reason why stock gym equipment(such as Cybex) only offers a slight advantage over barbells, dumbbells, and body weight stuff, is because all equipment companies assume that their pieces won’t be used with any particular protocol. To gear a machine for general use but designed around a protocol would not workout.



avatar Brian Liebler December 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

On occasion I will do ball squats, holding dumbellls in each hand. Sometimes I drop the dumbells and continue or do a wall sit till I colllapse. Very low tech, but great effect!


avatar Joshua Trentine December 18, 2010 at 8:01 pm

There are some very rare rehab cases where I might have to use a wall squat, staticly, instead of dynamic exercise, these are far a few between.
If i was limited to bodyweight exercise I would choose bodysquat over a wall-sit(described above).
more to come on this…..


avatar Dave December 18, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Joshua,is the bodysquat you are talking about like the one Ken has on his older certification vhs tapes? I think a pole was involed to help with balance.


avatar Joshua Trentine December 19, 2010 at 1:19 am



avatar Brian Liebler December 20, 2010 at 10:33 am

Can you explain Ken’s method of the Bodyweight Squat. It appears that if the hips swing forward that it’s a form of the sissy squat using a pole for balance.


avatar Joshua Trentine December 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm


I have a bunch of requests regarding demonstration video for basic exercises, I think the way to do this “right” is to provide detailed sub-protocols and shoot supporting video, this exercise is a must, we’ll get to work on it.

I would not compare it to a sissy squat.


avatar John Tatore December 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I would like videos of Al on the SSS Bicep and SSS triceps when he does that session in his rotation.

avatar Brian Liebler December 21, 2010 at 12:49 am

Josh, Detailed sub-protocols and video sounds interesting. By the way are you going to post your leg press video as you suggested a few days ago.

avatar radiology technician December 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!


avatar Joshua Trentine December 21, 2010 at 3:04 am

we need to get videos on these yet.


avatar Joshua Trentine December 21, 2010 at 3:07 am

Brian ,

I’ll post the Leg Press video this week, we have some really good posts coming next week with regard to the other.


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